‘Dodgy box’ TV service has been closed down since man released on bail, court told

Ciaran Donovan (41) has pleaded guilty to laundering hundreds of thousands of euro in relation to illegal streaming service

A “dodgy box” TV service run by a man in Kildare who is awaiting sentence for money-laundering has been closed down since he was released on bail last week, a court in Naas has been told.

Ciaran Donovan (41), a married father of two from Ashfield, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty last July to laundering hundreds of thousands of euro arising from the selling of an app linked to the King Kong Media illegal streaming service between January 2016 and March 2022.

The illegal service that was being used by thousands of users continued to be accessible even after he had entered a plea and was out on bail awaiting sentence. In April his bail was revoked and he was remanded in custody by Judge Martina Baxter of the Circuit Criminal Court because of the continued availability of the illegal service.

Donovan was released last week after the prosecution suggested he be granted bail for one week so the service could be shut down.

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When the matter came back before Judge Baxter on Wednesday, Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing, for the prosecution, said the service had been removed and that “King Kong Media is no longer available to subscribers.”

Desmond Hayes, for Donovan, asked that his client be granted continuing bail given his co-operation in having the service closed down.

Judge Baxter said Donovan had pleaded guilty to serious charges and the service had not been shut down earlier this year when Donovan was on bail. However, she decided to remand Donovan on continuing bail to July 12th, when it is expected he will be sentenced.

The court was told he is to enter a plea on June 5th in the District Court in connection with new related charges to do with the continued operation of the illegal service while he was out on bail in relation to the charges before the Circuit Criminal Court.

The court has heard that a criminal group most likely based in the UK has put in place a system whereby illegal access can be had to thousands of TV subscription channels and that Donovan was involved in providing access to this service to people in this jurisdiction who paid in the region of €70 a year.

When he was released from custody last week, one of the conditions of Donovan’s bail was that he agreed to meet a representative of Sky TV and a member of An Garda Síochána so he could hand over certain codes and URL details. The court has heard that Sky and BT Sports are among the TV services that have incurred substantial losses because of the illegal King Kong Media service.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent